Selling for the Short or Long-Term?

Selling for the Long-TermWill you be selling 10 years from now? 15? 25?

It’s likely you will, whether you’re  a commissioned salesperson or a senior exec, as you’ll still be responsible for bringing in new business to some degree. And while labor statistics show you may not be working for the same company after 4+ years, you’ll still be selling to customers (internal or external). Now that’s a sobering thought.

If that’s a likely reality then do you sell today as if you’ll be selling a decade from now?

Short-Term Selling

If you’re not selling for the long-term then you’re  on the short-term hamster wheel, which goes like this:

Rush of activity
—> generate numbers
——> win some
———> hit quota
————> coast a little
—————> stare into an empty pipeline
——————> rinse & repeat, again & again

That rush of activity is seen in your selling actions. You choose actions you think will bring in sales quickly. You make decisions on how to spend your time and what to do from that short-term focus.

What does short-term selling look like?

You know you’re short-term selling when you:

  • Insert yourself in front of buyers when you’re ready – not when they are (remember your gut feeling when you interrupted a buyer unannounced at their office?)
  • Spend time & money marketing to masses of anonymous, indifferent buyers (did you really believe emailing to a purchased list would endear you to buyers?)
  • Work the corporate sales process rigidly  – without flexing to individual buyers’ quirks (what do buyers think about you personally when they receive form letters from your CRM every 2-3 weeks?)
  • Press buyers to give you what you want – because you want it (how did you feel after punishing reluctant buyers with voice mails and emails every week for a year?)

Everyone Needs Results Now

Short-term selling is understandable. After all, there are quotas to hit, commissions to make, and mortgages to pay. But would you sell differently today if you believed you’ll be selling 30 years from now? And if so, would you be more successful?

Yes and yes!

Long-Term Selling

There are a number of fundamental differences when selling is a 30-year project instead of a  short-term sales approach.

#1 Long-term selling is not a project – it’s a commitment

That commitment is demonstrated through individual actions – yours: over the long-term.

#2 Self-Perpetuating Sales Results are Scalable

It gets tiring having to start from square one over and over again. Long-term selling moves you into buyer relationships where they start coming to you (nice) rather than you continually pursuing them.

Long-term selling produces results. Typically generating enough sales to get by in the short-term (3-6 months) and definitely in the near-term (1 year). This personal selling commitment eventually produces a perpetual new sales stream that reaches virtual autopilot status in the mid (2 year) and long-terms (3+ years).

What does long-term selling look like?

You know you’re long-term selling when you:

  • Give to buyers first (insight, knowledge, value) to get what you need later (access, confidential info, trust) 
  • Contribute to buyers’ knowledge in the way they want to receive it (permission marketing)
  • Participate in buyers’ trade associations (committees) & conversations (LinkedIn)
  • Leave your sales quotas at the door (authentically contribute)
  • Respect & seek to understand buyers’ challenges (professional & personal)
  • Spend more time, effort & money on long-term selling (than you did on short-term)
  • Exercise patience & perseverance over time
  • Continually learn & evolve with buyers’ businesses & how you can serve them

New Scarcity drives the Long View

In today’s volatile economy, short-term selling is a dog chasing its own tail. It might catch the tip once in a while but eventually it tires out and gives up. Selling is a career and sales are results of relationships. Both are built over time with insight, commitment and trust.

Good luck with the long-term.

Chris Arlen
President, Revenue-IQ



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